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Seldman co-founder ILSR, 1974, National Recycling Coalition, 1980, Grass Roots Recycling Network, 1995, Zero Waste International Alliance, 2010, Save the Albatross Coalition, 2015.
Seldman is a leading anti incineration and Zero Waste activist who was trained in the 1970s by recycling pioneers and activists in California. He works with local governments, small businesses, civic and environmental organizations to increase recovery of materials and adding value through processing and manufacturing.
Prior to 1974, Seldman worked in manufacturing and was a professor of political science at The George Washington University.
When recycling pundits were predicting, “The future of US recycling is a five letter word – CHINA”, ILSR said, “No. The five letter word is LOCAL”
Local and regional recycling is accelerating as a result of the collapse of international recycling markets in 2018 by single stream recycling and processing by Big Waste. This debacle made it clear that cities that control their materials can thrive without Big Waste and without China as they focus on clean stream recycling and local and regional market development. The private sector is responding by increased investment in domestic markets for paper, plastic, electronic scrap and organic materials.
The presentation will describe the process of monopolization of US waste and recycling and the current process of re localization in processing, composting and reuse. ILSR has recently published Monopoly Impacts on Solid Waste and Recycling Management and is preparing case studies of model enterprises in collection and processing of organic, glass, metal, paper, plastic and C&D materials. Participating companies are spread geographically across the US: Southern California, Steam Boat Springs, CO, Tulsa, OK, Twin Cities, Baltimore, MD, MN, Philadelphia, PA and Pittsburgh, PA.
Rahul is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Policy at the Harris School of Public Policy in the University of Chicago. Prior to joining Harris, he worked at Praja, a non-profit in Mumbai which works towards enabling accountability in urban governance, and advocates for empowering local representatives and governments. His areas of interest include using data-driven research to bring about a change in civic engagement, urban policy, waste management, and moving towards a circular economy. He holds an Engineering degree in Computer and Communications from Manipal Institute of Technology, India.
After working for 20+ years as the Green/Industrial Specialist on the City of Oakland's Business Development Team, Steve has retired from local government to pursue independent projects in recycling market development, and other sustainability initiatives. Through this change, Steve will continue to seek strategies that create good jobs while reducing climate impact.
Steve co-founded the Recycling BIN (Build Infrastructure Now) Coalition, and is past President of the California Assn. of Recycling Market Development Zones (2003-19) and the Northern California Recycling Association (1993-95). He is currently on the boards of the East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse and SPRAWLDEF.
The realities of China’s National Sword, California’s unfulfilled recycling mandates, and the larger imperative to address climate change combine to present waste reduction enthusiasts with a sobering sense of starting over. How can we connect the vision of Zero Waste to parallel efforts to create a Circular Economy? How can we balance the push for increased diversion from landfills with the demand for consistent, high quality feedstocks for manufacturing? What lessons can materials managers learn from the successful growth of renewable energy technologies and companies? As the push to drive organic materials out of the waste stream, what is required to finance, site, permit, and build the necessary infrastructure to make quality compost and other products that truly closes the loop for this material? While these are certainly some of the right questions to frame where materials management stands today, the answers are harder to grasp. Surely however, much more attention needs to be paid to the “demand side” of the Zero Waste equation (vs. the supply side). This shift will require a fundamentally different approach. With government resources stretched thin for the foreseeable future, we need to use a skillful blend of carrots and sticks to leverage private investment to drive toward a Circular Economy, much faster than we will get there by simply mandating achievement of landfill diversion targets. While the export market will always play a role in our marketplace, the next phase of materials management requires that we focus on building a strong, sustainable manufacturing economy in California, and with partners throughout the western United States.